So I was saying that we survived diving South Maldives, but that we had a messy first day. To be up to speed, read here Diving South Maldives (Part 1).
As expected, there were a lot of emotions flying around after that dive. There were traumatized divers, angry divers, and plenty of opinion on how the rest of the dive trip should be run. And so this merited the first ever House (Boat) Meeting.
I commend Paul and Daney for handling the open forum the way they did. I was a little worried that they were going to be impatient. I’m good friends with Paul and we talk in a very casual manner (read: lots of jokes, sarcasm, sometimes insults). I was afraid they’d be like that to the upset group. But obviously I don’t know anything, because they handled the situation perfectly and professionally! In the end everyone kissed and made up. We’re a happy house again. Thankfully, because we have 5 more days to go.
It’s a Brand New Day ♪ Changing on My Way ♬
With the pep talk the night before, day 2 dives were better. But there are few folks who missed out this day’s dives, either sick or still traumatized. I was far from confident but I would jump as fast as I can. In one of the jumps I couldn’t go down that I thought I may have forgotten my weights. But wait, my weights are integrated and so I did. This whole trip is mental.
Because we had more bottom time now that people are more willing to go deco, we began to see more. I don’t remember seeing much the day before because I concentrated too much on finning and looking at my computer. We saw the standard sharks, tunas, and school of eagle rays.
However, I was still not 100% happy because we did not cross the channel. Sure my mind adjusted to deco, but when my air gauge gets to 70 bar with 5 min deco time at 40m, I would get antsy and give in to the current. I generally have good air consumption. On a normal 1 hour dive, I will come up with almost half tank. So to see my gauge going to the redline was disturbing.
We only had 2 dives that day, as with the day before, actually on the 3rd day as well because the chase boat were constantly conking out. Luckily the divers were easy going and declared such case to be mojito time.
That day I chatted with Daney for hours (cancelled dive and all). I wanted input on how to cross the channel. That was my challenge for the trip. Like a shaman high on ayahuasca, he cryptically advised, just continue… continue… continue…
Third Time (Day) a Charm – Diving South Maldives
I was very determined to cross the channel that I even dreamt about it. But only to be awaken when Sinaa took us to a pinnacle dive. This dive is to get the traumatized divers back to the water I think. Marivi called it the “penalty dive”. It was an easy dive with nice hard corals. However, I think I’ve taken deco dive bit too far by unknowingly going to deco on this dive. I was a bit upset because I’ve accumulated unnecessary nitrogen on a simple dive, taking precious away from the next dive.
Fushi Kandu is the 2nd dive of the third day. I called it the first dive of the trip. For me, this is the first time Maldives unveiled its underwater treasures to us. Different schools of fishes perform their own thing in one big synchronized dance; left, right, front, center. It was amazing.
It was on this dive that I decided to focus my eyes only on the DM and my air gauge. To prevent the natural habit of looking at my computer, I flipped it down. Lol. My air consumption on this dive also improved significantly from the day before. I think we crossed the channel on this dive. We will be doing Fushi Kandu twice more the next day.
On the same dive Jiggy sprinted to 56 m in about a minute. I remember hearing tons of banging and honking and saw someone zoomed passed me (somewhere in the 40m mark). She swears she was following a DM but like me not minding her computer. Everyone thought she narc’d but I think she could be right because Sinaa brought some divers to 53,5 m. It was not considered an “incident” because she continued the rest of the dive with no qualm. She will also never hear the end of it for the rest of the trip. Lucky for her, she won’t have to for the rest of her life because Tom beat her at 60m on another dive; one he didn’t realize until checking his computer after going home.
The rest of the dive trip went smoothly after that. Everyone got back into the water, no more chase boat breakdown, and the live-aboard bar started to pick up alcohol sales.
This is supposed to be a special dive where hammer heads are plenty. Everyone were so hyped up that Gus offered buying everyone drinks if he sees them. This is the dive that I experienced the strongest current diving South Maldives, but only while finning down. We also experienced a sweeping cold current between 30-34 meters. However, there were no hammerheads for me or the other divers, except 3: Sinaa, Ryan, Hilda. Without photo proof, we thought they were hallucinating! Bitter. LoL.
This is the dive where Tom claimed he experienced the strongest current at 60m and his computer registered 13 deg. Crazy! I said he must have been near the gate of hell or that that dive was logged in the freezing water of California another time.
This is also the dive when Vangie and Marivi were left behind because they were watching the Kardashians in their room. Hahaha.
Alimatha House Reef
This is the last dive of the 5th day, Paul’s hidden ammunition he told me. This will guarantee any diver to go home happy. The house reef of Alimatha Resort has become a famous dive site since they started feeding them in their jetty. Boats now bring divers with their own chums. The result is Feeding Frenzy!
The dive is very shallow at 10-15m and the only time I brought down my camera setup on this trip. Here are some of the photos.
Deco is Just Numbers in your Computer
This became a byword on this boat diving South Maldives. The DMs joke about this because our dive training generally discourages us to go into deco. In fact, the whole point of diving with our computers is so we can avoid going into deco. But here diving South Maldives, it’s impossible to avoid because the action is in the deep.
Blame it on Paul
I mentioned the “fear” that was instilled in me. Two weeks before our trip, Paul’s group did the transition to diving South Maldives. He messaged me that he is worried for my “baby girl divers” because the current is “super strong”. I mentioned that we sometimes insult each other lovingly. He made fun of me because my team is majority girls (14). I told him I’m more worried about the boys (8). But since then, I monitored the facebook statuses of divers in that boat. I found that someone on that boat lost her camera set-up worth USD8000. What???
When they came back, I messaged Oliver so I can get the story in our language. He used words such as abort dives, search and rescue, deco, 45m average dives, but he also mentioned fun and enjoy. A week after that was Jan’s boat. I know half the people in that boat and did the same lurking on their facebook. There were even less updates and one underwater photo from Boogs. My mates received messages from those on the boat warning about difficult dives and even reminded us to get dive insurance for peace of mind.
So you see, we were already je-je-je-jaded coming into the trip!
Is worth it? Diving South Maldives?
I’ve been asked many times after the trip, especially those who wanted to go with but not able to. Or those who backed out last minute. I was debating in my mind if it’s a yes or no. So I guess it’s both yes and no.
To put simply, the stress level of the dives is not worth what we saw. If we say, encountered the million pilot whales underwater, it would be worth any stress! Or if we had seen schools and schools of mantas. But we did not. And because not all the divers were mentally equipped to handle the stress of diving South Maldives. I would want that 100% of the divers were 100% happy.
Because 80% of us had a super great time the whole time. At least, the adrenaline junkies in the boat. It was a rush to conquer the channels. We “kandu” it!
And if for nothing else, I’m sure everyone now is a better diver than before. I know I am. My air consumption improved dramatically, that even with double digit deco time, I would surface with 50 (or 70) bars, even if sometimes had to share air. No more fear of deco. Negative entry is natural. It is also on this trip that I deployed safety balloon for the first time, as this is the first time I thought had to surface alone. I’ve also mastered my Suunto D4 computer, as with most of us have mastered our own computers.
Our boat is also super great! It’s luxurious and the crew is amazing, every one of them from the captain to the deck boy, the dive guides to the boat men.
The true challenge of this trip is really the deep dives and going deco. The current is really not THAT strong. Watching my videos now showed the divers’ bubbles were at least going upwards. In fact, the only time I experienced difficulty finning down was in Dhiyamigili. And even that, it was not the most difficult finning I had to do in my life. It’s nothing like the horizontal bubbles in the Galapagos where even the sharks and turtles were having trouble moving forward. Or that time when I was finning and finning but I kept going backwards. The current in Anilao we did a week before (for practice) were stronger.
I probably will never dive South Maldives again (other parts yes), but I certainly do not regret this trip. I’ve reunited diving with some of my best friends, and have formed friendships with many new ones!